Education systems in Europe are considered among the most advanced in the world. Europe is also generally perceived to have education systems distributed more evenly across each nation than, for example many African or Asian countries. (This is certainly a debatable generalization but beyond the content of article.) Even within this context (true or false), Europe has seen many Montessori schools successfully enter communities of all socioeconomic levels. The world’s first Montessori school, Casa dei Bambini, or the Children’s House, was founded in 1907 in Rome, Italy by Dr. Maria Montessori, a very successful education expert with complimentary degrees in sociology and psychology. Although the original Children’s House is long since closed, the methodology that developed there has in fact changed the world’s education systems.
Interestingly, across Europe you will find that the Montessori education system is utilized in its more pure forms. This is perhaps due to the cultural context of the original findings, not necessarily due to the rigidity of those implementing the system. Schools in can be found in eastern, western, northern and southern Europe.
In a review of many of the Montessori schools, one of the more interesting cases was that of Casa Montessori in Romania. Originally, the school was formed to support an orphanage. They found orphans were in need of a more nurturing environment. The Montessori Method’s emphasis on providing this atmosphere in its classrooms made a remarkable difference in the children. The methodology’s focus on the student rather than the child also improved the confidence of the orphans as well as the academic level of the education they were receiving in comparison to the traditional system.
As the economic and social system of Romania developed, the orphanage that Casa Montessori was based out of closed due to the decrease in orphans in the area. Although this was a good thing, there were still many others in the community that needed a nurturing environment to turn to. The school changed its focus and turned into a Day Care Center and Rehabilitation Center for mentally challenged and physically disabled children. The education is provided free of charge for poor families in the community as well as for abandoned children. They plan to extend this into other areas of Bucharest as well as create a Teacher Training Center to further spread the Montessori education system in Romania. But Montessori education is not a new concept in Romania. Dr. Montessori personally opened the first Montessori school in Romania in 1934 after opening a string of small schools in Italy and introducing her methodology to North America and the many countries in Europe. The system has not spread across the globe and continues to grow and change the culture of learning worldwide.